Sandwich Town Beach
*Sandwich Town Beach is the most popular shore dive on Cape Cod.
OVERVIEW & HISTORY
Sandwich Town Beach is one of the best shore dives on Cape Cod. It offers easy accessibility and lots of underwater activity. It is easiest to dive at high tide however, low tide only means a longer walk from your car to the shoreline. It is an excellent location for night diving.
The bottom is a mixture of small rocks and sand close to shore, with larger rocks and clay bank reefs farther out.
The clay is an extension of the marsh behind the parking lot which at one time extended out to the ocean. These clay bank reefs are unique to this site and provide a great home for many burrowing animals. The depths at this site range from 15 to 25 feet.
This dive site is a very fragile growth center for bottom creatures. PLEASE TREAT IT GENTLY! Not far off shore, you will find many creatures including lobsters, crabs, moon snails, mussels, starfish, flounder,tautog and sculpin. Don’t blush if you come across mating horseshoe crabs!!! If night diving, watch for schools of squid.
From Route 6, Exit 2. Follow Route 130 north towards Sandwich. Just past the intersection of Main Street on the right, take a right onto Tupper Road. Follow Tupper Road as it crosses Route 6A. After it crosses Route 6A, take your first right onto Town Neck Road. Follow Town Neck Road to the end and turn right onto Freeman Road. Follow Freeman Road to the end and turn left onto Wood Road. Follow Wood Road to the end and turn right into the Town Beach parking lot. There is a nominal parking fee during the summer. You can use any boardwalk to the beach, but the ones at the farther end of the parking lot lead to a deeper dive area.
Always dive with a dive flag. This area is heavily enforced. The current will be noticeable at times. Make sure you don’t find yourself carried to the Cape Cod Canal.
Lake & Pond Diving
Cape Cod is blessed with hundreds of freshwater lakes and ponds. Many of them offer excellent diving opportunities. Virtually all of the Cape Cod ponds are kettle holes. A kettle hole is a hollow formed by melting blocks of ice. The kettle holes were formed by the retreating glaciers during the Pleistocene Epoch beginning fifty to seventy thousand years ago. Cape Cod’s kettle holes came into being during the Wisconsin stage of that epoch, less than ten thousand years ago.
Sandy swimming beaches offer an excellent starting point for your dive. Do not attempt to scuba through a designated swim area that is roped off and has lifeguards. Most lakes have a rapid drop-off and there are several that can be as deep as fifty feet or more.
Sunfish, bluegills, catfish (bullheads), trout, perch and bass are the most common freshwater fish found on Cape Cod. Note: Spear fishing in freshwater is illegal in the state of Massachusetts, except for trash fish. Bring some bread with you to feed the fish and see if you can get a school to join you on your dive.
After passing through about 20 feet of depth, expect a sharp thermoclineto occur. While surface water temperature can be as high as 75 degrees fahrenheit, below the thermocline, the water temperature is usually in the 50 degree Fahrenheit range. You will need a full quarter inch wetsuit, hood, boots and gloves to stay down deep for any length of time in these lakes.
Visibility can vary greatly from lake to lake. The highest visibility incurred is 40 to 50 feet with an average of 25 feet. Heavy rains always
decrease visibility for at least 24 hours after the rain stops. A few lakes have tannic-colored water and almost no visibility.
Although many Cape Cod lakes and ponds prohibit motor boats, you are still required to fly a diver’s flag at all times (see section on Massachusetts Dive Flag Law). Certain lakes can be hazardous in the summer months due to excessive motor boat use. Please use caution and do not dive if there is a lot of boat traffic present. In a contained body of water, boaters tend to be a little less observant and don’t expect to see divers in the water.
Do the environment a favor. Take a catch bag with you or use the pockets in your B.C. and pick up trash as you dive. Broken bottles, cans and paper are all targets. Try to make it a habit to pick up trash, not just swim over it.
HATHAWAY’S POND – Barnstable
OVERVIEW & HISTORY
Hathaway’s Pond is a twenty acre, reclaimed trout pond that is used by divers year round. It is a “kettle hole.” A 35-foot cabin cruiser named the Field & Sea was sunk on purpose in 1979 and sits upright at a depth of approximately 30 feet. The wreck is safe to enter and swim through. A stolen car also rests on the bottom at about 30 feet. There is a wooden diver’s platform at approximately 20 feet, about 70 feet off the swimming beach.
This site is used for student certification dives and by classes on windy days when the ocean is rough. It can get very crowded on weekends if the ocean sites are blown out. It can be an excellent site for winter ice diving.
Entry can be made from the small parking area to your right or from the main swimming beach. Please stay out of the roped off swim area during the summer. There are picnic grounds and swing sets for the kids. Please pick up your trash and that of others.
The bottom is sand with rocks around the edge of the pond with short grasses through approximately 25 feet. Below that depth is silt. Maximum depth is around 58 feet. The pond features primarily trout, bass, sunfish, perch and catfish. These species are very plentiful in the summer months. The pond is stocked annually with trout.
To get to the pond, take Exit 6 off of Route 6 and head south on Route 132 for approximately two miles. Turn left at the first set of lights onto Phinney’s Lane. The entrance to Hathaway’s Pond is about four-tenths of a mile on your left. A nominal parking fee is charged in the summertime for nonresidents of Barnstable.
As always when diving in and around wrecks, be careful around the sunken boat and car. Also, watch out for broken glass on or near the
shoreline. Note: There are no power boats permitted on this pond but you will still need to fly your divers flag.
FLAX POND RECREATION AREA – Yarmouth
OVERVIEW & HISTORY
For years this beautiful wooded site was operated as a private boys camp called Camp Kirkland. The land and buildings were purchased by the Town of Yarmouth in 1989 and it became a town recreation area. This recreation area was then renamed, Flax Pond, after its lake.
The site affords an easy dive with depths reaching to forty feet. Large schools of bass and perch are often seen by divers. The sandy beach area is the most common starting point. Here the water gradually slopes away to 15 feet. At the left hand side of the beach, 75 feet out you will find the remains of an old diving platform. Built by the kids of the camp many years ago, it attracts a lot of fish. A small rowboat sits next to the tower on the bottom.
Due to its small size, you might want to make an attempt at completely circum navigating the pond. If you are good on air, you should be able to complete the swim in under an hour’s time.
There are no boats on this lake, but you are still required to fly a flag by state law. Do not swim inside the roped-off swim area. There can be a lot of kids at this site in the summertime. I recommend this site for the off seasons. There is a 100 yard walk with equipment required to reach the beach. Parking is restricted to Yarmouth residents during the summer months.
MASHPEE/WAKEBY LAKE – Mashpee
BEACH OR BOAT DIVE
OVERVIEW & HISTORY
A large “kettle hole” lake, Mashpee/Wakeby Lake is actually two large bodies of water joined by a narrow channel. Supporting a very healthy population of freshwater fish, many big “lunkers” can be spotted while diving. Mashpee, the larger of the two lakes, has a maximum depth of over 80 feet. Several boats litter the bottom as well as lots of fishing gear. The channel between the two lakes has a very steep drop-off, but watch out for boaters in the area.
It is sandy near shore, leading into a heavy silt bottom with some weed beds interspersed throughout. The depth varies throughout the lake with a maximum depth exceeding 80 feet. This is another local lake that is stocked yearly with trout. You will see a large number of them along with large bass, sunfish, bullheads and crayfish.
From Hyannis, follow Route 28 towards Falmouth. At the traffic lights in Cotuit, take a right on to Route 130 North. Follow Route 130 for approximately one and one-half miles. Watch for a sign on your left marked “State Boat Ramp.” Turn left on to this road. This is the entrance to the lake and your dive site.
Be careful of the silt bottom. Stirring it up can reduce visibility to a near blackout. The weed beds cause a problem; try to stay out of them. There are many fishermen and small boats on the lake. Always dive with a flag and stay close to it. Surface with caution.
SNAKE POND Forestdale Section of Sandwich
OVERVIEW & HISTORY
With its large beach and boat inlet directly off the road and easy access, Snake Pond is a good place to go for a freshwater dive. The area in front of the beach is composed of sand. After a 25 yard swim, you will encounte silt leading downward towards the deepest point at the center of the pond – a depth of 45 feet. Catfish, sunfish, perch and smallmouth bass are common. A few divers have found old bottles at this site. One fellow I know found a stolen handgun recently and turned it over to police.
This lake would make a great night dive and I would suggest diving directly off the main swim beach where there is nice white sand.
From Route 6 (Mid-Cape Highway), take Exit 2, Route 130 south toward Mashpee. After approximately six miles, you will see Snake Pond Road on your right. Turn onto Snake Pond Road and proceed approximately.7 of a mile. You will see the pond on your right. The best place to set up is on the far right of the beach. This puts you closest to the deepest part of the pond which would be straight out.
There are motor boats on the pond. Dive with a dive flag and surface with caution. Be sure to lock your vehicles and valuables while underwater.
LONG POND – Eastham
OVERVIEW & HISTORY
Freshwater ponds warm up in the spring, long before the ocean does. If you can’t wait to get into the water after a long winter without diving, you may want to try this spot.
The bottom is mostly sand with silt covering the lower depths. The maximum encountered depth is 40 feet. In the pond, you will see eels,
trout, sunfish, yellow perch and bass. Be careful of snapping turtles found in the weedy sections of the pond.
From the Orleans rotary, proceed on Route 6 for three miles to Eastham where you will encounter a traffic light at the intersection of Route 6 and Samoset Road. Turn left onto Samoset Road and go one quarter mile to the Eastham Library on the right. Turn right down the one-way drive and follow it to the bottom of the driveway. You will see Long Pond directly in front of you.
There are no hazards to be concerned with. Remember you are required to use a flag even in freshwater.
SHEEP’S POND- Brewster
OVERVIEW & HISTORY
Sheep’s Pond is a popular summer area and parking is limited. Town stickers are checked here. Portable toilets are usually put in place for the season. A wreck and platform make it ideal for training and pleasure.
From Route 6, take exit 10 (Harwich). At the end of the ramp, take a left and travel north on Route 124. Stay on Route 124 until you reach Brewster. Look for Fisherman’s Landing Road on your right. This road takes you tothe landing and your dive site.
The bottom composition is sandy around the swimming spots until it drops off. From the drop-off, you will encounter fallen tree limbs and
decaying leaves which makes for silt. You will also encounter large rocks. The depth ranges from 23 feet near the swimming area to 60 feet at the north end of the pond.
A variety of fresh water fish live here. Trout, bass, pickerel, yellow perch and bullheads can be seen. This site is stocked yearly with trout. Crayfish can be found under logs and rocks in the shallow areas.
This is a popular swimming and canoeing spot. Power boats frequent the pond for fishing. There is a small ski boat wreck that doesn’t really pose a hazard if you are careful around it. Always dive with a dive flag. Surface with caution.
PO Box 766
East Sandwich, MA 02537